So, the Husband and I have just returned from our two (and a piece) weeks exploring England and Scotland. We had a marvelous time even if I felt like I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I usually prefer to be. We hit fantastic weather; it rained maybe two days during our entire trip. We started out in London and then rented a car to go off exploring. I got to return to England to see plenty of castles and ruined abbeys, warming my I-minored-in-Medieval-Studies heart. The Husband got to hit up the whiskey trail in Scotland… you don’t want to know how many hundreds of dollars in scotch returned home with us! So, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be putting up a report on our trip to offer recommendations for any fellow travelers out there.
Alas, here’s to real bacon, local ales, chippies, and tea the way it was meant to be enjoyed!
Day 1: London
The flight to England was pretty smooth and slightly entertaining. Or it would have been had the drunk lady behind me not woken up half the plane in the middle of flight. The fun part was she wasn’t even supposed to be sitting there. She just kept coming up to hit on/try to illicit a mile-high encounter with the gentleman, sitting behind the Husband, whom she met at the airport bar. The flight attendants had to keep escorting her back to her seat at his request. It did get to be pretty funny (although a bit loud at times). That aside, we got to Heathrow bright and early, and here I must stop to praise the customs and baggage efficiency of the Brits. From the time the plane touched down to the time we exited the terminal to meet our ride, it took about 35 minutes. I have NEVER been in and out that quickly in an airport before. It was great! We met up with our car hire and made our way to the hotel, St. Ermin’s. We ended up staying here to earn a few Marriott points. The location of the hotel is perfect, being just around the block from St. James tube station and just a 5-10 minute walk to Westminster Abbey. It was expensive as are nearly all London hotels, but I’d consider staying here again in the future.
Being early, of course, our room was not yet ready so we dropped off the luggage and headed out to grab a bite to eat. And as an aside: let me just insert here my own personal triumph with regard to our luggage- we packed for over two weeks in Europe using just our small and medium suitcases. No large suitcase needed! ::ahem:: I am very proud of that! 😉
Breakfast ended up being a cute little diner not far from the hotel where you could get a full English breakfast (egg, bacon, sausage, beans, tomatoes, toast, tea) for £5. You just can’t beat that! We then decided to get an overview of the city by spending some time doing a loop on one of the hop-on/hop-off buses. We did this in Dublin years ago and loved it. Unfortunately, London is not Dublin and this was one activity I kind of regret. The loop we chose ended up being never ending. We never finished it because we had spent too many hours on the bus already and the company had everyone get off to change buses three times in a fifteen minute time span, so we were pretty much done at that point. It was just obnoxious. With that in mind, I do not recommend Big Bus Tours in London, for what it’s worth. After spending longer than we should have on the bus, we headed up to the British Library which has an exhibit that displays some truly amazing manuscripts. There are early manuscripts from Judaism, Hindu, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. There is a Gutenberg Bible. There are letters written by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. There are the original Beatles music scores, handwritten by the boys themselves. There’s one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. You can’t not love this place!
After visiting the library, we hopped the bus back towards the hotel to grab some dinner and to turn in early in preparation for a jam-packed day of sightseeing the next day.